“Your follicles look healthy and big; no wonder you feel swollen. What about your mood?” the doctor asked.
“Well, I’m not a sad person, but yesterday, I was really sad. I don’t even know how to explain it,” I replied. She laughed (Day 6 of Ovarian hyperstimulation)
As I am writing these lines, I’m the closest I’ve ever been to creating a life.
In terms of medical procedure, I undergo a procedure that is completely identical to the process of fertility and eggs improvement. The main difference is the ultimate goal, and accordingly, my journey is different from other women who want to get pregnant.
As I sat in the clinic, waiting for my turn, there were many women around me; each one has a story, and there’s my story.
I decide to write my story to give people a glimpse into an unfamiliar world.
I want to give you the opportunity to experience this process with me, and not when it is a vague memory of hormones and swelling in which I put few eggs in the refrigerator.
* * *
A year ago
No, I didn’t get up in the morning and decided to freeze my eggs. It was a process, mainly mental.
If I look back, the issue of freezing eggs was not strange to me.
Since my mother told me that she was a BRCA1 gene carrier, the doctors saw fit to tell me that if I was a carrier myself, it would be preferable to remove everything and freeze my eggs. I was 29, and since then that thought never left me. It has become a cognitive conditioning: “If you have the gene, you need to freeze your eggs.”
Years passed, I refused to get tested until a year ago.
The results were negative, but that thought of frozen eggs was still there.
To be honest, I don’t know if I want to be a mother. Unlike many women, whether single or not, they know or knew that’s what they want (wanted) to be.
“Why are you freezing eggs if you don’t want kids?” I have been asked countless times over the past few weeks.
Because I can.
* * *
“You seem ready for a baby. Obviously, you’re ready. You don’t want one?”
“It’s time, Hagar. Look at you; you’re really good with children.”
This is the tip of the iceberg for what I was told during my last visit to Israel every time I played with a child or held one.
Frankly, I want a Louis Vuitton bag a lot more.
A child is not an accessory that you buy online, and if I don’t feel like it, I return it and get a refund or credit.
If I’m been totally honest (and I am), I don’t want to be asked about my child plans.
However, if you decide to ask, then you should be ready to hear my truth.
It’s no secret that from where I come from, the Israeli society, Israeli culture and the Jewish heritage, we are encouraged to multiply without recognition.
It’s okay, as we’re not the only ones. The pressure to reproduce exists no matter where you are. The question is, can you decide for yourself what is right for you without succumbing to this pressure?
* * *
Have you ever considered the possibility that not everyone wants to be a parent even if they can?
Have you ever thought of me or any other woman without children and considered that perhaps our purpose is to do good without being a mother?
A few weeks ago, Shiran (a friend and full partner in my process) sent me an interview with Jennifer Aniston for INSTYLE magazine. During the interview, she was often asked about the attitude towards her as a woman in Hollywood, gossip, relationships, and about not being a mother. She gave an answer that caught my attention more than anything:
“There is a pressure on women to be mothers, and if they are not, then they’re deemed damaged goods. Maybe my purpose on this planet is not to procreate. Maybe I have other things I’m supposed to do?”
When I imagine myself a few years from now, I see a gorgeous house in Atlanta with a perfect kitchen where I bake. I’m sharing a plate of cheese with a sexy man , and drinking a glass of wine. I’m writing a book and a column for a prestigious magazine. I’m being active in philanthropy, making contribution to the community. I’m producing events on an international scale, sitting alongside many women like Jennifer Aniston and Oprah Winfrey who produce the fruit of their birth, which isn’t necessarily children.
* * *
Ten days of injections (Ovarian hyperstimulation)
(Day 1) – I stare at the syringe with a tiny needle and don’t understand what I’m doing.
(Day 3) – I inject myself with three syringes every night. I have bruised myself. I’m in pain
(Day 5) – I went to a friend’s birthday party. I’m swollen and every garment feels like weight on my body.
(Day 7) – I inject myself and talk on the phone. Easy.
I don’t think there was one day in the past week I got a syringe in my stomach that I didn’t ask myself and my friends why I was doing it. Wow, unreal.
I’ll start by not being able to understand how people stab themselves (with a syringe) on a daily basis, whether it’s for the purpose of health (diabetes) or for another purpose (drugs). Our brain isn’t built for it. Harm ourselves. It takes me half an hour to inject myself.
I’ll continue with taking off my (imaginary) hat for every woman who went through this for whatever purpose. You are all heroes. I’m not saying that because I’m going through it now myself; I say it because it’s just a nightmare.
90% of the time, I want to kill everyone; 90% of the time, I want to sleep; 50% of the time, I’m not hungry; 50% of the time, I want to eat the whole snack area in the supermarket; 100% of the time, I don’t want to be touched; 100% of the time , I want someone to hug me.
* * *
Retrieval – the day later
“Hagar, Hagar,” I heard my name from a distance.
“You can wake up. We’re done,” the nurse said.
I opened my eyes, not quite sure where I am. Oh, wait a minute. I’m in a hospital robe.
There is a warm feeling above my belly. I put my hand up and have a warm pad.
“You can take it home with you; it will help relieve the pain.”
“What pain are you talking about? I’m flying,” I replied.
I didn’t have pain on the day of retrieval (I’m guessing it was the drugs they gave me).
A day later was a different story; Womb pain is a pain that no one prepares you for, not in childbirth (hearing evidence), not in retrieval (fact), and not in any form. There is no way to explain it. There is no way to prepare for it; you just have to go through it.
Maybe these are the hormones writing, but every time I feel the holes in my ovaries heal, I feel mystical closeness to every woman in the world.
* * *
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow; neither do you. I can meet someone tomorrow and decide that I want to be a mother. I can accomplish everything I wrote and decide that I want to be a single mother. I can also adopt, and I can decide not to have kids. It is definitely my decision and not anyone else’s.
I do know that the decision to freeze my eggs is the best decision I made for myself.
I am not writing this so that someone else will feel “obligated” to do so.
We don’t have to do something we don’t want to do; And if you read my story and feel that you want to do something that isn’t normal or popular, know that you are not alone, and there are lots of women like you.